Commentary: Giving the gift of illegal immigrants to Congress

The Fort Worth Star-TelegramFebruary 25, 2011 

Just in time for Texas Independence Day, state Rep. Lois Kolkhorst, R-Brenham, has a gift in mind for Washington lawmakers.

If Kolkhorst's bill passes, every member of Congress from Texas will get a special delivery from law officers:

A vanload of illegal immigrants arrested on other charges, unloaded daily at the lawmakers' local office doors.

Kolkhorst's House Bill 1455 would allow sheriffs and police to release illegal immigrants at any office of a U.S. representative or senator.

It's not meant as an enforcement bill. (The immigrants can walk away.)

But it dramatizes Congress' failure to enact immigration reform.

Kolkhorst, a six-term lawmaker and chair of the House Public Health Committee, said she didn't want to file an overreaching bill "that would spur a bunch of lawsuits."

"I want to address the point legally," she said.

"I want us to take these illegal immigrants in custody to a congressman's office and say, ' We don't know what to do with these people. Do you?'"

At the south end of her Central Texas district, Austin County Sheriff DeWayne Burger said he appreciates any help.

"But this is one of those feel-good laws," he said by phone from Bellville.

"What am I supposed to do? Say we pick up a drunk on Saturday night. We check his fingerprints, but the federal government won't come get him just for being drunk. He gets to walk out of my jail Sunday morning. Am I supposed to have a deputy take him to Senator Cornyn's office?"

To read the complete column, visit www.star-telegram.com.

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